Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Domain Ownership (K2 #82)

Question of the week
How can I find the real owner of a website?
— T. Dorji

Answer
Dear T. Dorji,

Indeed, website ownership is often more than meets the eye and some detective work might be needed. Start by visiting the website. If the website has an “About us” or “Contact us” page, the answer to your question might appear right there. Some website owners, however, do not provide that information on the website. In that case, your next best bet is to try and find out who owns the domain name for the website (the domain name is the address that you enter in the browser, for example www.google.com).

The domain ownership information is often stored online in a special database called WHOIS database, and you can use free WHOIS lookup services to query this database. One such free service is the excellent DomainTools. To look up a domain, visit whois.domaintools.com, enter the website address, and hit Lookup. If the lookup was successful, you will find plenty of information about the owner, which might include their address and phone number. For example, when you look up www.google.com, you will find that the owner is (surprise!) Google Inc. in Mountain View, California.

Sometimes the output from the lookup will send you to another website, requiring an additional step to uncover the ownership information. For example, if you search DomainTools for www.bpc.bt, you will get the following response: “For more information, please visit http://www.nic.bt”. That’s the case with all Bhutanese domains. The website www.nic.bt indeed has ownership information for Bhutan-registered websites, and it will tell you that bpc.bt is registered by Pema Tshering of Bhutan Power Corporation in Thimphu.

Some website owners do not like the idea of having their personal details available online, so they use a domain privacy service. In such cases, the website owners’ details in the WHOIS database are replaced by the name of a company which acts as their proxy. Popular domain privacy services include “Domain by Proxy” and “Domain Privacy Services”. To find out who is behind a privacy-protected domain, you will need to contact the owner’s proxy and convince them why you need the name of the domain owner. If you have a good reason (for example, the website is doing something illegal), and a good lawyer, you might be successful.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com